Excerpts from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Gnosticism is a blanket term for various religions and sects most prominent in the first few centuries A.D. Its name comes from the Greek word for knowledge, gnosis, referring to the idea that there is special, hidden knowledge that only a few may possess. The occult nature of Gnostic teaching and the fact that much of the evidence for that teaching comes from attacks by orthodox Christians makes it difficult to be precise about the differences between different Gnostic systems.
Gnosticism taught generally that matter was evil, and was the creation of a lesser god (called the demiurge, after Plato). But human bodies, although their matter is evil, contained within them a divine spark that fell from the good, true God. Knowledge (gnosis) enables the divine spark to return to the true God from whence it came.
Many Gnostics (especially the followers of Valentinius) taught that there was the One, the original, unknowable God; and then from the One emanated Aeons, pairs of lesser beings in sequence. The Aeons together made up the Pleroma, or fullness, of God. The lowest of these pairs were Sophia ("Wisdom," in Greek) and Christ. Sophia sinned by seeking to know the unknowable One, and as a consequence of her sin the Demiurge came into being, who created the physical world. Christ was then sent to earth to give men the gnosis needed to rescue themselves from the physical world and return to spiritual world.
Gnostics identified the Demiurge with the God of the Old Testament; thus they rejected the Old Testament and Judaism, and often celebrated those who were rejected by the Old Testament God, such as the serpent, Cain, Esau, etc. Some Gnostics were believed to identify the Demiurge with Satan, a belief which contributed to the suspicion with which many Christians regarded them.
Some Gnostic sects were supposedly Christians who embraced mystical theories of the true nature of Jesus and/or the Christ which were out of step with the teachings of orthodox Christian faith. For example, Gnostics generally taught docetism, the belief that Jesus did not have a physical body, but rather His apparent physical body was an illusion, and hence His crucifixion was not bodily.
Most Gnostics practiced celibacy and asceticism, on the grounds that the pleasures of the flesh were evil; a few however practiced libertinism, arguing that since the body was evil they should defile it. This led to further distrust, and was an accusation leveled against other groups who did not follow this practice. This is where Catholicism drew its celibacy nonsense from and the obsession against sex, or any pleasure at all. This came via St. Augustine.
St. Augustine is the father of Western Christianity, both Catholic and directly connected to Martin Luther and John Calvin. He would give Western Christianity its theological excuse for murder and genocide against heretics such as the Gnostics, Arians, Donatists, etc. Oddly, his theology originates with the Gnostics. (Manichaeans)
Word-Faith Gnostic Teachings
The Word-Faith movement is very Gnostic in many ways, and it comes out of the New Thought Movement.
Gnosticism is often defined as a "cult" of secret knowledge or to quote, "These gospels emphasize knowledge that Gnostics have and others do not."
Gnosticism is loaded with Buddhism and other Eastern religious themes.
Gnosticism differs from true Christianity in two ways: #1 Gnostics believe the material world was created as evil and corrupted, and #2 Jesus was a spirit, not actual flesh. Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit in both Gnosticism and Christianity, but in Gnosticism the Holy Spirit was the "feminine" or female aspect of God. Thus the Holy Spirit was the true "mother" of Jesus. RIDICULOUS!
Christianity and Gnosticism differ from Judaism in who or what created the Universe. Gnostics believe the Law was given by lesser beings seeing the Hebrew God as a fallen angel or worse, the devil himself. Christianity claims Jesus created the Universe before He became flesh. Gnostics say no, claiming Jesus was a spirit.
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (KJV)
Malachi 2:10 Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers? (KJV) . . . There is NO mention of other beings!
John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (KJV) . . . JESUS created the world!
John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. (KJV)
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (KJV)
Ephesians 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: (KJV)
Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: (KJV)
Who gave the Law?
Exodus 24:12 And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them. (KJV)
John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. (KJV)
Galatians 3:19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. (KJV) . . . A typical Gnostic belief is that the Law was NOT from God, but was given by others.
Gnostic View of God
The Gnostic view of God is pantheistic, meaning that God dwells in all things and all things are of God. Gnostics of all kinds deny the idea that God directly created the material world, which they see as corrupt or fallen.
This is the one main area where true Christianity clearly differs from Gnosticism.
Christianity and Judaism claim "God" the Creator is good, but Christians claim the soul is corrupt due to the sin of Adam. Gnostisim differs. In Gnosticism the Demiurge (Creator) is by NO means all-good, but a bungling and incompetent fool that creates the world as a spiritual prison. Gnosticism also presents a distinction between the highest, unknowable "alien God" and the "creator" of the material . . . the Demiurge. BLASPHEMY!!!
There is NO such thing as Christian Gnosticism, because they are two entirely different systems of belief. A true Christian is not a Gnostic and a Gnostic is not a Christian.
Gnosticism was perhaps the most dangerous heresy that threatened the early church during the first three centuries. Gnosticism is based on two false ideas. #1 It promotes a dualism regarding spirit and matter. Gnostics believe that matter is evil and spirit is good, therefore Gnostics believe anything done in the body, even the worst possible sin, has NO meaning because real life exists in the spirit realm only. #2 Gnostics claim to possess an elevated knowledge, a “higher truth” known only to a certain few. Gnostics claim a higher knowledge, NOT from the Bible, but acquired on some mystical higher plain of existence. Gnostics see themselves as a privileged class elevated above everybody else by their higher, deeper knowledge of God. NOT what the Bible says!
To discredit any compatibility between Christianity and Gnosticism, you just have to compare the teachings of the two on the main doctrines of the faith.
Salvation. Gnosticism teaches that salvation is gained through the acquisition of divine knowledge which frees one from the illusions of darkness. Although they claim to follow Jesus Christ and His original teachings, they contradict Him. Jesus said absolutely nothing about salvation through knowledge. Jesus said salvation . . . eternal life, was by believing in Him as Saviour (FAITH). John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV)
John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. (KJV)
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. (KJV) . . . FAITH!
The salvation Christ offers is absolutely FREE and available to anyone (whosoever) who will accept it. Salvation (eternal life) is NOT for just a select few who have acquired a special knowledge. That is a damnable heresy according to the Bible!
Christianity states that there is ONE source of Truth and that is the Bible, the inspired, inerrant Word of the living God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice (John 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; Heb. 4:12). TRUTH is God’s written revelation to mankind and is NEVER superseded by man’s thoughts, ideas, writings or visions. The Gnostics on the other hand, use a variety of early heretical writings known as the Gnostic gospels, a collection of forgeries claiming to be the “lost books of the Bible.” Thankfully, the early church fathers were nearly unanimous in recognizing these Gnostic scrolls as fraudulent forgeries that espouse false doctrines about Jesus Christ, salvation, God, and every other crucial Christian truth. There are countless contradictions between the Gnostic gospels and the Bible. Even when the so-called "Christian Gnostics" quote from the Bible, they rewrite verses and parts of verses to harmonize with their philosophy, something that is strictly forbidden and warned against by Scripture (Deut.4:2, 12:32; Pro.30:6; Rev.22:18-19).
The Person of Jesus Christ is another area where Christianity and Gnosticism do not even come close. Gnostics believe that Jesus’ physical body was NOT real, but only “seemed” to be physical and that His Spirit descended upon Him at His baptism, but left Him just before His crucifixion. Blasphemous garbage!! Such views destroy not only the true humanity of Jesus, but also the atonement, for Jesus must not only have been truly God, but also the truly human and physically real Man who actually suffered and died upon the cross in order to be the acceptable substitutionary Sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 2:14–17). The Biblical view of Jesus affirms His complete humanity as well as His full deity.
Gnosticism is linked to much New Age heresy, as well as Word-Faith heresies! Those who are modern day gnostics in the Church would be people like Rick Joyner and the Word-Faith movement.
Rick Joyner is the most obvious Gnostic in the church today. He has many companions, but he alone typifies a pure "Christian Gnostic" mentality.
Practices of Gnosticism
Hymns and magic formulas were recited to help achieve a vision of God.
Wine and drugs were used to open up the mind to the spirit realm.
My friend . . . stay FAR away from these Satanic evils, for this is NOT of God but from the devil!
HOW do "Christian Gnostics" explain the Fact of Jesus Christ?
The "christ spirit" simply inhabited the body of the man Jesus. The christ spirit had come to teach man the gnosis whereby he could free himself from bondage to the evil material world. Some even taught that Jesus did not actually have a body of flesh, but was pure spirit. Thus the ideas of physical death and resurrection were denied by the gnostics.
How do so-called "Christian Gnostics" deal with Scripture, and the reality of God Almighty?
#1 Gnostics rejected the literal and traditional interpretations of the Gospels.
#2 Gnostics rejected the God of the Old Testament as a dictator trying to keep us in bondage to this world.
#3 The Creator God, to the Gnostics, was NOT the Supreme Being, but a secondary Being who had fallen from the pure spiritual realm of the Supreme Being. This Creator God was the architect of the Universe but His mistake was to imprison men in earth-bound bodies and apply to them the bondage of Law. This is very similar to the damnable Word-Faith teachings. Gnostics seek to escape, through superior wisdom, the rule of this god, and rise to spiritual intimacy with the Supreme Being, the center of all being. So, they do NOT accept the Law of God. They were in essence lawlesss.
MAJOR ADHERANTS - HISTORICAL
Simon Magus, a famous magician who lived during the reign of Claudius Caesar, possibly Simon The Sorcerer of Acts (Paul Trejo at: http://www.webcom.com/gnosis/simon.magus.bio.html)
Valentinius, the philosopher
Apollonius of Tyana (The Gnostics, Anders Sandberg, http://www.student.nada.kth.se/~nv91-asa/Mage/gnostics.html)
He has asserted that from this time on he had an "ability to foresee future events and occasionally could look at people and know details about them." Nevertheless, he acknowledges he left the ministry in 1980 and "drifted from the Lord" until 1987. In a vision first presented in four parts in successive issues of his The Morning Star Journal and then published in the book, The Final Ouest, Joyner presented his vision of his ascent up the mystical mountain. Along the way he converses with angels and discovers doors leading to secret knowledge that will revolutionize his Christian experience. He also finds the 'Garden of God' and is invited by angels to taste of the tree of life. He also encounters many believers and personal friends who have gone on before and when he finally reaches the top he meets Jesus himself. It is much more ambitious than some of the first century Gnostic Gospels that were content to give further revelations of Jesus' silent years from 1- 12. etc. By any historical standard The Final Quest is an aggressive attempt at Gnostic writing.
Joyner proposes that there are different levels of revelation. Level one is prophetic "impressions". Level two is described as "conscious illumination" which he says was the level the apostles used when they wrote the New Testament documents. Level three is an even higher level which he calls "open visions" which are viewed externally like the clarity of a movie screen. Finally, the fourth and highest level he describes as the "trance". It is on this highest level of inspiration that Joyner claims he received his dreams and visions. In other words he claims a higher level of inspiration than the Apostles when they wrote the Gospels and Epistles. Joyner describes these levels of revelation in The Final Quest, pg 9-10.
Joyner leaves no doubt that he is thoroughly Gnostic. One of the Ancient Gnostic teachings is that God actually dwells within the soul of man and is a spark of divinity deep within the soul that must be sought and experienced. In Joyner's trip up the mountain an angel tells Joyner: "The Lord dwells within you. You have taught this many times, but now you must live it for you have eaten of the tree of life. The angel then began to lead me back to the gate. I protested that I did not want to leave. Looking surprised, the angel took me by the shoulders and looked me in the eyes. This was when I recognized him; It was Wisdom. 'You never have to leave this garden. This garden is in your heart because the Creator Himself is within you". (Climbing Joyner's Gnostic Mountain by Orrel Steinkamp, The Plumbline, Valume 7, No. 3, July/August
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